“Where on earth have you been hiding for the past year?”
Editor(s): Amelea, juurensha
Tuoba Yan’s attention had only been briefly diverted by Xiang Shu before it returned to Chen Xing’s face, as if he was beaming with joy. There was a slight tinge of a blush on his face from embarrassment and he seemed to be thinking.
“Um……Brother Tuoba is also……” Chen Xing looked at Tuoba Yan and thought, oh no, don’t tell me he’s genuinely mute? And thought I was scolding him?
“No no!” Yuwen Xin quickly said, “He’s not! He’s usually not like this……Brother Tuoba?”
Tuoba Yan coughed and took a deep breath. He looked like he wanted to say something, so everyone was waiting for him to speak, yet Tuoba Yan suddenly fell silent again.
Chen Xing, “………………”
Damn it! This is so embarrassing! What’s the matter with this person?
“I……” Tuoba Yan finally spoke, “will go for a walk.”
Then Tuoba Yan suddenly stood up and left without saying another word.
Chen Xing, “?????”
Yuwen Xin thought it was extremely strange as well. After he watched Tuoba Yan leave, he pondered for a while before saying, “Why did you come to Chang’an?”
Chen Xing said, “Well it really fits the saying, ‘life is too short, it’s a long story’……ever since we parted ways……”
Just as he was talking, Tuoba Yan suddenly came back in again and sat down.
Chen Xing, “?”
So Chen Xing had to stop for the time being. After all, with an outsider around, he didn’t want to talk too much about matters concerning exorcists. He didn’t know why, but it was as if the unforeseen events on Mt. Longzhong made him feel that if such strange forces existed, then it would be safer for him to not publicise his identity for now. Exorcists and the yao tribes have always been at odds after all.
“Never mind,” Chen Xing smiled, “there’ll always be an opportunity to go into details next time. I have too much I want to say to you.”
“Un.” Yuwen Xin nodded approvingly, “That’s true. Where are you staying in the city?”
When Chen Xing heard that, he instantly felt a little disappointed. He thought that Yuwen Xin would say, “You can stay here first”, and after accompanying his guest, he would go look for Chen Xing to chat with late at night. However, there was no need to recklessly surmise like that, so he simply said, “I had just arrived in Chang’an this morning and came to find you once I entered the city.”
“You just came?!” Tuoba Yan suddenly said this.
“Yes, yes.” Chen Xing quickly laughed with a, “hahaha”.
Tuoba Yan shot Yuwen Xin an inexplicable look. Yuwen Xin was a little puzzled. He pondered for a while, then said, “Then you……the Songbai residence in the west of the city is not bad. I won’t keep you for dinner then, you should have a good, long rest first ba.”
Chen Xing, “……”
Tuoba Yan wanted to say something at once but held back. He suddenly remembered that there was still a Xiang Shu in the hall, so he cast a doubtful glance at him.
“Oh.” Chen Xing answered, “Ok, I won’t hold you up anymore then.”
And thus, Yuwen Xin ordered his housekeeper to send the guests off. He hadn’t even offered Chen Xing tea. Chen Xing finally understood -- apparently, he was the one who was ignorant.
“Xin Ge.” Chen Xing had just left the hall when he suddenly turned around.
Tuoba Yan was watching Chen Xing leave, while Yuwen Xin seemed to be thinking about something. When he heard this, a smile appeared on his face again as he politely asked, “What is it?”
“Nothing.” Chen Xing smiled with relief, “I hope to see you again.”
Yuwen Xin lifted his hand slightly and didn’t even get up, which could be considered a farewell.
After they left the Yuwen residence, Chen Xing walked out of the alley on foot and continued walking on slowly. Darkness had fallen, and the sky was full of stars.
Xiang Shu was still following behind Chen Xing. Chen Xing suddenly said, “I’ve let you see me make a fool of myself.”
Xiang Shu glanced at the Yuwen residence in the distance without answering.
“Do you have any money?” Chen Xing said, “I’ve finished spending all of mine.”
“No.” The gold ingot Xiang Shu threw into the Yuwen residence was his last one.
So Chen Xing could only stand by the roadside and sigh a little sadly. His Shifu taught him little about the ways of the world. Most of the time, he had just ordered Chen Xing to read books since he said that books had everything in them. But no matter how many books he has read, Chen Xing still couldn’t understand why Yuwen Xin would turn into what he’s like now after nine years.
He was the least interested in learning how to observe people and how to be tactful. Now that he recalled Yuwen Xin’s appearance, he realised that he was quite different from what he was like nine years ago, as if he was now a lot more worldly-wise.
Xiang Shu said, “Where are you going? Staying in an inn?”
Chen Xing, “How are we going to stay in an inn without any money? Wait here ba.”
Or go look for Feng Qianjun? But Feng Qianjun probably doesn’t have much money either.
Xiang Shu, “Wait?”
Chen Xing, “Wait for the heavens to give me money. Wait patiently, there’ll be some in a minute.”
Xiang Shu, “……”
Chen Xing said, “I’ve told you before that Iuppiter is part of my fate. I’m very lucky and have never lacked money, just watch ba.”
Before the time taken to drink a cup of tea passed, an official’s carriage drove over from the long street with a lantern in front of it. Its driver was a handsome young lad, dressed in a bright steel armour of one solid colour who rode a tall and big horse. The carriage suddenly stopped in front of the road.
Chen Xing said cheerfully, “Now that’s right!”
Xiang Shu, “ ……………………”
Those few guards dismounted one after another, drew the curtain, and quickly said, “Young Master Chen, my master would like to invite you onto the carriage to have a word with you.”
“Who’s your master?” Chen Xing thought, this person seems rich...wait, no, why would he call me Young Master Chen? He was about to get on the carriage when Xiang Shu pressed down on Chen Xing’s shoulder. He answered, “Come down if you want to talk.”
When the one in the carriage heard Xiang Shu’s voice, they alighted in just a few steps -- it was Tuoba Yan!
“Chen Xing?” Tuoba Yan smiled, “Why are you here?”
Chen Xing didn’t expect to see him at all. He had just left not too long ago, so how could he bump into Tuoba Yan here? He smiled, “You didn’t stay at the Yuwen residence for dinner?”
“No.” Tuoba Yan said, “Un, no, go away!” As he spoke, he casually pushed aside the guards that had shifted over with torches to provide some illumination for Tuoba Yan. The guards thus dispersed in a hurry and quickly walked over to the wall behind the carriage to stand here.
Chen Xing, “???”
“You’ve just arrived at Chang’an and aren’t familiar with the place and people here.” Tuoba Yan said, “Why don’t……you come to my residence to stay for a few days first? Although my humble abode is a little crude, it has already been cleaned up enough to be suitable for welcoming guests. I sent word back just now to ask them to make preparations beforehand.”
Chen Xing was delighted and was about to happily say, “Okay!” when Xiang Shu said, “Not going.”
Chen Xing, “……”
Chen Xing thought, what does this have to do with you! What on earth does this have to do with you?!
Chen Xing looked back at Xiang Shu, but Xiang Shu’s hands that were pressing down on him never left his shoulders. Chen Xing couldn’t budge an inch because Xiang Shu was holding him down. Tuoba Yan glanced at Xiang Shu and frowned slightly. Chen Xing suddenly felt like the atmosphere had turned somewhat strange.
“Go.” Xiang Shu said calmly.
“Wait!” Tuoba Yan and Chen Xing quickly spoke in unison. Tuoba Yan suddenly remembered something, wasn’t this man a mute? But he didn’t question it.
If it weren’t for Xiang Shu, Chen Xing would definitely have followed Tuoba Yan right now. However, it wouldn’t be good for Chen Xing to reject him in the end. Xiang Shu was penniless right now; if he were to stay with Tuoba Yan, it would be a small matter for Xiang Shu to sleep under a bridge, but it would be a huge matter if he decided to rob a bank! This place was Chang’an City, the city right under the nose of the Son of Heaven!
“If this mu……” Tuoba Yan couldn’t remember Xiang Shu’s name for a moment and said, “mute brother is willing, then I’d like to invite you to stay in my residence as well, and give I, your little brother, a chance to entertain you both.”
Seeing how Yuwen Xin treated him, this person shouldn’t be of a low rank, yet he was this polite, which really surprised Chen Xing. Just as he was about to ask Xiang Shu for his consent, Xiang Shu said, “Not going, how many times do I have to repeat that?”
In the next moment, Chen Xing felt a murderous intent rise, and Tuoba Yan seemed to sense it in a split second as well. However, that murderous intent was fleeting and disappeared once again without a trace after a short moment.
“We……will find an inn to stay at first.” Chen Xing was afraid that this rabid dog Xiang Shu would stab Tuoba Yan over a slight disagreement and quickly said, “So we’ll take our leave.”
Tuoba Yan knew that this person was difficult to deal with, so he nodded at Chen Xing, “Then, let’s talk again when you’re free!” After he spoke, he took off a ring from his hand and stuffed it into Chen Xing’s hand without giving him a chance to speak. “After you find a place to stay, dispatch someone to send a letter to me. The west side of the imperial city, the largest place, a vermillion residence in the middle with eaves that are inlaid with gold. The one with a door embedded with jade is my humble abode.”
“This is the first time we’ve met, how could I accept this?” Chen Xing wanted to say, “You can just lend me some silver, why did you take off your own ring to give to me?”, yet Tuoba Yan turned around to get back in his carriage, and his guards went back to their positions in a hurry and drove the carriage away. Chen Xing couldn’t speak for a moment. He held Tuoba Yan’s ring in his hand. When he looked up, he even saw Tuoba Yan draw aside his carriage’s curtain and make a “two” gesture with his fingers. He smiled, “This is the second time!”
Chen Xing, “……”
So the two of them stood by the roadside again. Chen Xing looked at the ring in his hand -- it was formed through polishing ancient stones, looking simple and unadorned, yet it spontaneously radiated a faint light in the dark night. The stone ring was carved with a divine dragon that had its head and tail connected; its knife work seemed complicated, and the design was really exquisite -- it was practically a work of art that could rival nature. What’s more, it was a luminous stone ring!
Chen Xing had seen many precious items ever since he was a child. Even if a treasure of this level was compared to the collection in his home and master’s house, it would not be inferior at all. Tuoba Yan had just casually taken off a ring that was worth at least 3,000 taels of gold and given it to him, that guy is really too extravagant.
“This shouldn’t be some kind of magic weapon ba?” Chen Xing started to have doubts. After the silence of all magic, all magic treasures aside from the Heart Lamp had turned into ordinary weapons. What if it was a magic weapon?
“Can this be pawned?” Chen Xing thought that this couldn’t be exchanged for money either. What was Tuoba Yan’s identity? The commander of Fu Jian’s own army. If he took this to a pawnshop, everyone would probably be able to recognise it and immediately report him to the authorities.
“Now what?” Xiang Shu finally asked.
“Wait for a little longer ba,” Chen Xing despaired a little, “Wait for the next batch of money.”
But no one else arrived. Chen Xing thought it was a bit strange -- this shouldn’t be ah, usually after waiting for this long, some sort of fortuitous encounter should have already happened by now.
After a full quarter of an hour later, Chen Xing said, “Did Iuppiter close shop for the day? Why don’t we seek shelter with Feng Dage?”
Yet Xiang Shu turned around and just left. Chen Xing said, “Where are you going?”
Xiang Shu didn’t answer. He walked in front the whole way while Chen Xing followed at the back. They crossed through the long street. Chen Xing wasn’t familiar with the place and just saw that the farther they walked, the more desolate it became. Were they finding a place to spend the night at? It shouldn’t be ba, there are so many people on patrol in this street.
Following which, Xiang Shu reached the bottom of a high wall. There was a huge gate painted with red lacquer not far ahead, so Xiang Shu walked straight over.
Chen Xing, “What are you going to do?”
“Find a place to spend the night.” Xiang Shu answered.
There were two guards at the red lacquer gate. When they saw Xiang Shu coming over, they said, “Forbidden area! No one is allow……”
Xiang Shu wielded a steel sword in hand and made two moves with his sword still in its sheath; the guards stopped talking abruptly and fell to the ground in an instant. Chen Xing was surprised and quickly said, “Don’t attack soldiers! It’s not like they provoked you!”
Xiang Shu just kicked half of the huge wooden door so hard that the hinge on the lower half of the door fell apart, and the door swung inwards. With a sword in hand, he walked through the door. Chen Xing chased after from behind and quickly cried out, “Aaaahhh! Do you know what you’re doing?”
Xiang Shu was obviously too lazy to explain. He walked all the way in, and the surrounding soldiers were instantly alarmed. They shouted, “Who is it! An assassin!”
Someone was playing a zither in the distance, seeming like the master of this place. The music of the zither sounded very natural, like big and small pearls that were falling onto a jade plate with tinkling rings.
A large group of soldiers rushed over, each with a weapon in hand. Xiang Shu’s fingers that he held his sword with followed the sound of the zither and tapped along thrice rhythmically.
All Chen Xing saw was a shadow flash past in front of him; Xiang Shu swept by with a whoosh, and all the soldiers instantly fell like paper dolls in a shadow play as they all dropped and lay sprawled all over the ground. Immediately afterwards, Xiang Shu went forward and slowly passed by the group of guards. The guards were spread all over the ground in a mess and kept groaning; all of them had been knocked down by a sheathed sword, yet no one had died. Chen Xing was in great panic. He wanted to pull Xiang Shu away, but the zither paused. Xiang Shu stepped into the corridor behind the garden and seemed familiar with the place as he walked towards the huge residence.
As they got closer to the sound of the zither, guards in all directions began pouring out endlessly. As soon as a guard appeared, he would be knocked down by Xiang Shu. Jab, stab, sweep, graze, Xiang Shu never stopped walking, and wherever he walked to, guards would fall. The sound of the zither grew urgent. Xiang Shu’s sword had not yet come out of its sheath, yet it was as if it had split apart a curtain to waning lamplights. Not a single one of them could rival him.
The zither stopped.
“Keep up.” Xiang Shu said.
Chen Xing ran quickly as he followed behind Xiang Shu. He reached out to pull at him, but Xiang Shu turned a corner into a magnificent residence. The interior was bedecked with brilliant jewels and almost blinded Chen Xing’s eyes. Two beautiful women inside were playing a zither, and once they saw Xiang Shu, they shrieked and the sound of the zither came to an abrupt halt. Yet Xiang Shu pushed open the side door and walked through it.
“Where is this?” Chen Xing said, “Please excuse us, we entered the wrong place by mistake and accidentally entered a land of treasure……we’ll leave right now!”
Xiang Shu passed through five to six rooms in succession, and in every room people screamed in panic; some ran away in a frenzy while others pleaded for mercy, and Chen Xing finally realised a problem:
This is the palace……
Chen Xing’s soul scattered at once. He shouted, “Xiang Shu! Stop walking! This is the palace! Let’s run!!!”
Chen Xing chased Xiang Shu and arrived in front of an enormous drill ground. Sure enough, this place was the Weiyang Palace, and the two of them had just barged in here from the imperial garden. They passed through all the imperial concubines’ rooms and arrived at the front of the Dengming Palace. The palace had already been sent into a complete frenzy. Imperial guards appeared on all sides and rushed to the drill ground outside of Dengming Palace, surrounding Xiang Shu and Chen Xing within.
Tuoba Yan had just returned home and didn’t even have time to change his clothes before hearing that an assassin had appeared in the palace. He immediately rode a horse to the palace, dragging a long dagger-axe with him as he rushed onto the drill ground, only to see the bright illumination of torches that turned night into day. 20,000 crossbows were pointed at the two assassins in the middle of the drill ground.
“Where are you assassins from!” Tuoba Yan said, “Wait? Why is it you two?! Stop, don’t shoot! Don’t kill them!”
Tuoba Yan shouted out his command and appeared to stand out in the crowd.
Chen Xing looked all around him; by the side of the drill ground, on the roof, and on the steps, guards filled the area in front of the imperial court. With just one command from Tuoba Yan, the two of them would be shot until they turned into meat paste.
“Brother Tuoba!” Chen Xing said in a hurry, “It has nothing to do with me, I was just held hostage by him……”
Xiang Shu interrupted Chen Xing and faced Dengming Palace as he shouted, “Jian Tou! Get out here! I have matters to discuss with you!”
Twenty thousand people were in a sudden uproar, only because that form of address had not been heard in Chang’an for too many years.
Yet a loud voice resounded from within Dengming Palace that laughed, “Shulü Kong?! Where on earth have you been hiding for the past year?”
On the other end, the Qin army was clustered around a burly man dressed in a cloth robe, and this bearded, robust man walked down the steps. The robust man casually pressed down on the iron crossbow of an imperial guard, and the sound of crossbows withdrawing rang out in the surroundings. Immediately afterwards, several military officials ran out quickly with astonished looks on their faces. They looked at the robust man, then at Xiang Shu.
Tuoba Yan, “Your Majesty!”
“Fu Jian?” Chen Xing was already dumbstruck.
Xiang Shu took off his mask and threw it aside.
All the civil and military officials instantaneously cried out in alarm.
That title was like a clap of thunder exploding next to Chen Xing’s ears.
“Great……great what?” Chen Xing was baffled, “Xiang Shu, they called you Great what?”
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro.